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Style Guide for Contributors to Universe

File Compatibility

If you are submitting articles by e-mail, note that the Editor uses Microsoft Publisher 2010 for the final copy of the journal. The Editor also uses recent versions of Word and Excel. If files are submitted in other program formats, they may not appear exactly as you have submitted them. This applies particularly to tables, graphs and images. If in doubt about which is the best format to use for submitting you contribution, please contact the Editor before sending it. The Editor is able to convert from any form of image, but jpeg is the best format. If you use a scanner, it is best to scan at 200dpi to get the best possible resolution in the finished image. Images may be resized smaller to keep the overall size of the magazine reasonable.

Suitability of Submissions

The Editor endeavours to maintain a high standard journal. For this reason, there may be occasions when submissions are not considered suitable for publication. If submissions are poorly written, inaccurate or “politically” unsuitable, the editor reserves the right to withhold them from inclusion in the journal. If an article is time sensitive, please write a note to the editor in a covering letter or email message (not inside the article, as it may not be read immediately, depending on the space limits of the current issue). An effort is also made to present a variety of material to the readers, and to have contributions from many authors. If you have sent in numerous long articles, some will certainly be held over to subsequent issues.

Originality and Referencing

Submissions for which you give yourself as the author should be your own work. If you have lifted something directly from a web site or other publication, or substantially used other people’s ideas, this should be stated up front with a full reference given. If you use quotes from other work, these should also be referenced. There is no specific format for referencing, so feel free to include it either within the text or at the end of the article, as seems appropriate.

Correctness, Convention and Readability

When it comes to proofing and editing the journal, every attempt is made to reproduce the author’s original intent in a convenient and readable style. Generally only minor changes of a typographic nature are made. Major re-wording or clarification of ambiguous content is usually referred back to the author for confirmation.

In an attempt to reduce the amount of time needed for proofing, it would be helpful if contributors could adopt the following conventions.

Formats - general, dates, times, spelling, page notations


Preferred Format Comments


Normal typing style except only use one space after full-stops.

Except for headings, never type anything in ALL CAPITALS – it is difficult to read.
With computer publishing, double-spacing after full-stops is unnecessary.


20th August, 1999
On 20th August 1999, we saw ... 
Saturday, 20th February
Thursday, 18th March

Full month rather than Mar., Apr., is easier to read.
With or without comma before year.
Include comma after day.
Lower case in superscript is nicer.



Full-stops and spaces can cause problems, as the numerals can become separated from the letters if occurring at the end of a line.



Generally adopt the “English” style rather than the “American”..
… although “program” has now crept into common use, and is easier for you to type (as opposed to “programme”).

Page Notations:

April Universe, p7
Astronomy Magazine (pp38 – 62)

Again, no full-stops, commas or spaces between the “p” and the numerals. “pp” is the plural.



If using abbreviations for catalogues, NASA acronyms or anything that is not generally well-known, the custom is to write it in full the first time you refer to it, with the abbreviation in brackets immediately following. From there on in your article you can just use the abbreviation. If ever in doubt about the correct format for an abbreviation, use the complete word – it is easier to read anyway. Likewise for Greek letters in star names, (e.g. Alpha Centauri.) you don’t have to use the Greek symbol.

Abbreviations, Grammar and Punctuation Examples:  



e.g. “The star appeared to be 6th mag, although the catalogue states mag 6.3.” or “the stars were of mags 6.2 and 3.1”. The abbreviations should only be used if making frequent references. For solitary references, write magnitude or magnitudes.
etc. Include full-stop
BC Omit full-stops
AD Omit full-stops
scopes, ’scopes With or without the leading apostrophe. The apostrophe is tricky, as the computer will make it go the other way. You need to type it after the previous word, type scopes and then go back and put the space in (do this for years as well, like ’99)
M67 Messier numbers, no space between the “M” and the numbers
NGC 5460 NGC numbers do have the space
IC 4402 and so do IC numbers
i.e. This is tricky because your computer will probably try to capitalize the i for you. After typing the “.e.” you should be able to go back and amend the “i” and it will stay in lower case.
e.g. Include full-stops
R.A. Capitals, and include full-stops
Dec. Capitalised, and include full-stop
SSE, NW Capitals, and omit full-stops for multiple cardinal directions
north-west Hyphenate if writtin in full
7°S No space or full-stop, or else
7° south Leave space and lower case if direction is given as full word
arcsec. / arcsecs. One “word”, include full-stop
arcmin. Likewise
m.arcsec. / m.arcsecs. Milliarcsecond / s, or can use mas if it is obvious what you mean
max. maximum (include full-stop)
min. minimum (include full-stop)
 50cm Omit space and full-stop
 18-inch, 18” Use hyphen for word
 f/7 Slash between the “f” and the number
 Dobsonian, Newtonian Capitals – named after people
 reflector Lower case (not a person)
 refractor Likewise
 100x (Means 100 times magnification) Lower case x, no space
 Eyepieces / Filters:  
 12mm Omit space and full-stop
 O-III Not O3 or O111 (the “III” is a Roman numeral)
 Physics Terminology:  
newton /N
amperes / A
hertz / Hz
Even though named after people, when using whole word as a physics term, use lower case, but if using abbreviation, use upper case and no punctuation e.g. It was a 6N force.
Distances / Speeds: 
8.75 l.y. light year (include full-stops), same if plural
120pc parsec (no full-stop), same if plural
60kpc kiloparsec, kiloparsecs
10Mpc megaparsec, megaparsecs
40AU astronomical unit (capitals, omit full-stops), same if plural
120km omit spaces as often the numbers get separated from the abbreviations when they fall at the end of a line
18km.sec-1, 23kms-1, 42km/s These are all correct, but please choose one format and stick with it throughout the whole article.
Degrees and Large Numbers: 
Please use commas for thousands. I don’t know why on Earth they’ve got rid of them recently. They make numbers much more readable, and if you leave spaces you will end up with your “7” on one line and your “000” on the next. No commas after a decimal point. Celsius temperatures are measured in degrees. Absolute temperatures are measured in Kelvins (omitting the ° degree symbol).
with respect to  e.g. “Enquiries with respect to the details…”
compare with This is the correct form in most cases. It means “to note the similarities or differences of”, e.g. “When you compare this with its appearance twelve months ago…”
compare to Rarely used, means “to liken to”, e.g. “Shall I compare thee to a summer rose ?”
respectively Only use this if there have already been two or more items referred to in your text. e.g. “The primary and the secondary have 5.3 and 2.4 solar masses respectively.” Otherwise, just say “the two stars have 5.3 and 2.4 solar masses”.
its This is possessive, e.g. “its colour was breathtaking”.
it’s This is short for “it is”, e.g. “I think it’s going to rain”.
Colon : Used if you are about to say something. Do not use a dash :- unless you really intend to draw a sideways smiley face.
Semi-colon ; Divides ideas in a list that appears after a colon.
Hyphen - A short dash used for two-word terms (no spaces) and particularly for compound adjectives made with two regular words, e.g. "the naked-eye view"
Dash – Leave a space before and after a dash – used to separate ideas.


Quotations and brackets, plurals, capitals

If an entire sentence appears inside quotes or brackets, it should begin with a capital letter and end with a full-stop, also inside the quotes or brackets. e.g. (The reader may refer to previous articles.)

If a bracketed remark is a full sentence, don’t try to include it inside another sentence, but have it appear at the end, e.g. Nearly 2000 signed. (Try to beat that today!)

If the quote or bracketed remark falls within, or at the end of an existing sentence, then close the quotes or brackets before the full-stop or other punctuation. e.g. These stars are known as “the pointers”, and are easy to find. He said “please show me that star”. The orbit is obviously elliptical (see Figure 1).

Other conventions still apply inside the brackets, e.g. The distance is given as 2.683 parsecs (8.75l.y.).

Unusual Plurals:  
spectra more than one spectrum
radii more than one radius
axes more than one axis
maxima more than one maximum
minima more than one minimum
nebulae more than one nebula
aurorae more than one aurora
phenomena more than one phenomenon
Earth, Sun, Moon, Milky Way Primary Solar System bodies and common names use capitals.
Jupiter's large moon Use lower case for moons if they are moons other than our Moon.

Alpha Centauri is great! I saw alpha Centauri ...

In the case of star names, in mid-sentence, you can use lower case for the Greek letter as in alpha Centauri, though if submitted in upper case, it will be left that way.


Finishing Off

DO use tools at your disposal – spell-check and grammar-check may give you lots of irritating things which you want left the way they are, but they will almost certainly find some errors you’ve missed. A regular dictionary is also handy.

TRY proofing on paper, as well as on the screen – punctuation, in particular, is difficult to see on the monitor, but shows up easily on a print-out. You will also think of better ways to word things if you pick it up and read it some time later. Even try reading your article out loud.

DON’T PRESUME KNOWLEDGE. Many readers are new to this business, and may not understand abbreviations that you take for granted everyone knows. If in doubt, write in long form, or include a key at the end of your article. And remember that not everyone will automatically know that Delta Corvi will be found in the constellation of Corvus.

DO feel free to submit your constructive ideas, criticisms, or pet hates to the Editor for inclusion in future updates of this guide.

Nobody's Perfect:

Here's a short list of things I can never remember:
one word or two?
drop the e or keep the e?
hyphen or no hyphen? – note that some forms change depending on use as an adjective or noun ...
goodbye, thank you, a thankyou letter, nevertheless, lousy, detached, set-up, flyby, north-west, colourful, orangey, rosy, noticeable, camaraderie, travelled, otherwise, each other, 3-D, nightfall, nighttime, halfway, moveable or movable
Palomar Observatory, Palomar Mountain (not Mt. Palomar)

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